The reason for the Gretsch sound?

someguy01

Well-known member
I've never had the pleasure of seeing a Gretsch kit in person. The local places seem to really love DW and Sonor. As for GC, well, it's just a running joke about their stock, or lack thereof. I am intrigued though, would love to try one out.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
When you buy a USA Custom kit-it's handmade in USA Ridgeland SC and It isn't Fred Gretsch building it-no he just puts his name on it. So I think your handmade custom kit should bear the name of who built it. So if Tom Adams actually built it should be called the Gretsch/Adam USA Custom kit for that personal touch (maybe a pic of him in bass drum). Otherwise I'd just buy the Taiwanese Renown shells and add all the Custom hardware and have a USA Custom kit.
The Renowns sound "exactly" like the USA Custom-built in some old factory in SC-whereas I bet the Taiwan factory actually more advanced. So obviously Americans don't build superior drums and the Great Gretsch sound is just some made up American film flam take yo money snake oil salesman.
Now the people who play Gretsch Drums are superior but the builders no. I bet the person who made your custom drum kit doesn't even play drums-damn now I'm pissed what personal touch can a non-drummer add to my kit. So there is no Great Gretsch sound and it's just another kit no matter where its built.
I don't believe any of that-just sayin'. You folks are bursting my bubble. What makes the Great Gretsch sound is the great drummers who play Gretsch Drums-but you can argue they will make any kit sound good-but I'm not making that argument. It's the Great Gretsch Sound-everyone recognizes it.
 

Old PIT Guy

Well-known member
This is probably going to be very unpopular. The vintage Gretsch, from my experience, weren't all that. If the heads weren't too tight the mufflers rattled or the wrap peeled. I think there's a lot of mystique and romance with Gretsch, and if we're referring to the vintage stuff I don't find it to be deserved. As for the sound, given the older drums are often tuned to table top tension I can't identify a sound other than BOING!

Having said that, the newer stuff all sounds very good, but I don't hear huge differences between well made modern drums. I hear different players making contemporary drums sound a little different due to touch and dynamic levels in most cases. One example of a huge difference I heard recently was listening to Zach Danziger play a set of Yamaha maple customs in power depths compared with his recent Gretch offerings and it was night and day. The long decay of the Yamaha is totally missing from the Gretsch.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
One example of a huge difference I heard recently was listening to Zach Danziger play a set of Yamaha maple customs in power depths compared with his recent Gretch offerings and it was night and day. The long decay of the Yamaha is totally missing from the Gretsch.
Could possibly be how the two kits were tuned/set up. My Renowns are super resonant with a ton of sustain. I dampen them pretty heavily to get the sound I like in my little studio. They'll sing all day if I don't stop them somehow.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
. . . but I don't hear huge differences between well made modern drums. I hear different players making contemporary drums sound a little different due to touch and dynamic levels in most cases.

Right on target, sir. What's the best-sounding kit? There's only one cogent response: It depends on the drummer. Throw in the fact that hearing is just as arbitrary as the remaining four senses, and the entire discussion dwindles into a cheerleading contest.

GO PEARL!

See what I mean?
 
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NouveauCliche

Senior Member
I'm sure it's combination of hardware, bearing edges, shells....it's about as magic as anyone else's combination.

Like Sonor - when they have their multi shell of all the same size toms at NAMM - Every year I would walk by and me and some other drummer were friends were always shocked at how much every series of drums sounded almost exact the same back to back haha. Very slight differences.

The Gretsch combination of the above just happens to find my ears better and feel than any other kit I've played and I've owned and played a lot...so dissecting what exactly it is always an exercise in futility as the end result is so subjective anyways.

The Broadkasters sound and tune way different than the Brooklyns and the USA customs, etc. I actually really like that they have a limited offering of high end kits - it really gives them a chance to differentiate the lines and give each one of them their own unique character and sound. The only place it to blurry to me was the RN1s and the USA Customs - which is funny because of the price difference, but the RN2s seem to have a distinctly different feel to them.

I'm a big fan of the family and the history and the team at the Factory so it's hard not to separate my personal biases at this point - but regardless of what the actual magic is, it's certainly there to be enjoyed and played!!!
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
Help me out we have ALL read in Modern Drummer where endorsers of whatever have said that they have a gretsch kit at home that they dearly love. They NEVER go into detail.
EVER. Coming up I'd read this but say tell me why!. I've also had a huge! Studio guy tell me in writing that he rarely sees gretsch in the studio.
 

bongoman

Junior Member
Recording studios buy gear that will appeal to the young bands that come in, to impress them. Whatever is coolest. A decade ago they had to have a rack full of two or three specific models of fancy compressor, even if the actual tracking was going to be done through a dbx or a plugin. It’s fashion, baby. Gretsch is mostly appreciated by old people.
 

incrementalg

Gold Member
Recording studios buy gear that will appeal to the young bands that come in, to impress them. Whatever is coolest. A decade ago they had to have a rack full of two or three specific models of fancy compressor, even if the actual tracking was going to be done through a dbx or a plugin. It’s fashion, baby. Gretsch is mostly appreciated by old people.
I'm bucking any trend of Gretsch being solely appreciated by older people. I have two sets and have changed my second set brand a handful of times over the years. My kids both play drums and they gravitate to my Gretsch USA set 99% of the time regardless of what the second set is.
 

brushes

Well-known member
I've also had a huge! Studio guy tell me in writing that he rarely sees gretsch in the studio.
I can hardly imagine that that is the norm. What kind of studios is he talking about? Small label jazz-studios? Big Label metal/rock-studios? Independet "we do everything"-label-studios? Not all studios have the same musical focus afaik. And quite often, artists bring their own drumsets in when recording. I doubt that Carlock, Guiliana, Colaiuta, Soan, Brazil, Blade et all do not use their Gretsch drums in studio but ... let's say ... Pearl or Tama or Yamaha.
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
There's something with their shells too. Not just their layers, but I swear they shells start out twice as thick and smashed down to size. They are the heaviest shells I've ever owned. When I first got them, I stripped off all lugs and compared everything to my PDPs. The PDP lugs weighed a ton by comparison, but the Gretsch shells, while only 1mm thicker were way heavier.
That's interesting. The only Gretsch drums I've had hands-on experience with was an old kit probably from the late 60s 4 piece they look like 6 ply Maple shells that had been rewrapped in a solid black finish.. I think they were rewrapped because there were holes on the inside of the shell for a different butt plate than what was on it and there were no holes in the plastic wrap. The shells we're also oversized I had to shop around with various head brands until I could find one that would fit over the shells without being too tight. It seems like it was remo that made one that was specifically for older shells that tend to be a slight bit larger than modern shells. I bought a new kit a couple of years ago and Brooklyn's where on my radar but I ended up getting Ludwig Club date
 

bongoman

Junior Member
I can hardly imagine that that is the norm. What kind of studios is he talking about? Small label jazz-studios? Big Label metal/rock-studios? Independet "we do everything"-label-studios? Not all studios have the same musical focus afaik. And quite often, artists bring their own drumsets in when recording. I doubt that Carlock, Guiliana, Colaiuta, Soan, Brazil, Blade et all do not use their Gretsch drums in studio but ... let's say ... Pearl or Tama or Yamaha.
Studios generally do not have a “musical focus” unless you’re talking about like a Nashville studio that 99% records modern country, or a niche project studio like Daptone. And those endorsing artists do not necessarily play their endorsed brand in recordings. For one thing, they are professional enough to get their sound from pretty much any kit. For another, modern premium drums don’t necessarily sound all that different from each other. The idea that a world class endorser of one top brand would turn up their nose at another top brand is laughable.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I mean like literally. How many chose Gretsch because of the slogan?

Me: Excuse me, Mr. Pro Engineer, why do you have Gretsch drums in your studio?

Mr. Pro Engineer: Because they have that "great Gretsch sound".

I'm guessing 0 to not many at all. They may have heard Gretsch drums and thought they were fantastic, but I have doubts about the slogan having anything to do with it.
They biought them on reputation. I remember when I first joined this Forum, the number of people that thought Gretsch was for Jazz only. I said take a look at Steve Ferrone, and Mark Schulman. Two of the best rockin' drummers. Tom Petty and Pink.
 

MrBeats503

Member
I didn't mean to ask why Gretsch drums sound great. Mostly I was just asking whether the sharp shell attack/low head resonance is due to the 30 degree bearing edge or not.

Even tho the DW jazz has maple gum, they still sound a little more resonant to me. The differences in construction to me are a 45 degree bearing edge, 1 extra ply, no silver sealer, different lugs and maybe the grain is rotated differently in each ply? From a pure material science perspective, I kinda doubt that the silver sealer does much to the sound.

Certainly hearing a Gretsch USA custom from the 80s with a 45 degree bearing edge would be the ultimate A/B test.
Yes. What you are describing is a result of the 30 degree bearing edge. More shell resonance, less head resonance, overall less sustain.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I don't really have much new to add to the discussion about the Gretsch sound (what hasn't been said??) but I have a comment that will reveal me as the true Shallow Hal I am...

I have never considered a Gretsch kit because I hate the way the silver sealer looks! When I use clear heads top or bottom, I want to see wood!
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
I've read testimonials from one or two people on Facebook who finished the insides of their Catalinas with some sort of silver paint, and they did say that noticed a difference in the sound. Now, it's all hearsay, but the reflectivity of the inner surface of the shell will have some effect on the sound. However, having seen in the insides of a Jasper shell Corder kit, I wouldn't be surprised if the silver sealer was introduced because those shells didn't all have full-depth plies, and they just wanted to hide it. Either way, that Corder kit did not sound like a Gretsch.

Combine that with thin maple/gum shells which are, according to Paul Cooper, larger diameter than most, 30 degree edges, and tall heavy die-cast hoops, and you get that Gretsch sound. I'm definitely a big fan of that sound.
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
Help me out we have ALL read in Modern Drummer where endorsers of whatever have said that they have a gretsch kit at home that they dearly love. They NEVER go into detail.
EVER. Coming up I'd read this but say tell me why!. I've also had a huge! Studio guy tell me in writing that he rarely sees gretsch in the studio.

If they're good enough for Lars...in the studio... ;-)

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GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I think Vinnie has endorsed most drum brands but I "hear" he records with Gretsch. So Lars played Gretsch and still no love. Poor dude. I was going to say if Buddy Rich had played Gretsch not only would he be known as a great drummer but people might not think he was such as asshole and love him. But no such luck if Lars can't get respect Buddy no love.
Well that Great Gretsch Sound can't do everything-though I heard it can cure cancer-or at least group drumming sessions helps those battling cancer. The details don't matter-Gretsch sounds great and will help you "beat" cancer. Hey they should hire me for advertising.
 
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